“This is about retaking the democracy from the corrupt corporate power that is determining what happens in Washington, D.C.”

Photo of Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist and former hedge fund manager

Tom Steyer, a billionaire activist, denounced a “rigged system” that benefits Americans at the top, and said “we’ve got to take the corporate control out of our politics” in announcing his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Accomplishments: Steyer, who attended Yale for undergraduate and Stanford for an MBA, began amassing his fortune in 1986, when he launched the hedge fund Farallon Capital. In the past decade, he has donated millions of dollars of his fortune to Democratic candidates and organizations that promote liberal causes. A fierce critic of President Donald Trump, he launched a campaign, Need to Impeach, with the sole focus of removing Trump from power and has starred in self-funded television commercials in which he calls on Congress to begin impeach proceedings. Steyer also formed the political nonprofit NextGen America, which supports progressive positions on climate change, immigration and other issues. Forbes estimates his net worth at $1.6 billion.

Foreign policy: Steyer said in an interview with CBS News after announcing his bid for president that he disagrees with how Trump has handled foreign policy, saying, “His whole America first, America alone, I’ll deal with the dictators of the world by having shrimp cocktails and shaking hands, is so stupid it almost beggars description.” Steyer said he would favor addressing international issues with “our traditional allies in a multinational way.”

What sets him apart: Steyer is one of only a few candidates in the Democratic field who has never served in public office. He and his wife have signed a pledge to donate half of their fortune to charity in their lifetime. Steyer is also one of the last candidates to enter the crowded race for president, putting him at a disadvantage for hiring sought-after campaign officials as well as making it more difficult for him to meet the donor and polling criteria to join the Democratic debates.

Platform: Steyer says his campaign will focus on reducing the influence of corporations in politics as well as target environmental issues, including climate change.